Last season BCB readers (sic) participated in our annual ranking of the Brewers’ prospects. Let’s see how those prospects advanced (or not) their standings in the list.
#8: Cody Ponce
Cody Joe Ponce is the antithesis of last year’s #9 prospect Zach Davies. Cody is 6’6” and 240 pounds, relying on a mid-90’s fastball and a cutter. The Brewers selected Ponce in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft, 55th over-all. Good ol’ Noah Jarosh gave us an early scouting report on Cody in a June 7th, 2015 article.
Noah pointed out Ponce’s good control and two plus pitches, but also noted that his fastball didn’t have a lot of movement, and Ponce had gone through some injury issues. He pointed out that he relied on his fastball for strikeouts, and that his cutter was good, but his curve and change needed work. In his season and a half in the minors, he has struck out 8 batters per 9 innings pitched and walked only 1.9 per nine. In 123 innings he has only walked 26, but he has allowed 131 hits. It would seem that he indeed has maintained his good control, but the fastball has appeared to remain straight and hittable.
He was also prescient with his injury comment. Cody didn’t pitch this past season until June due to a stint on the DL due to forearm fatigue. He was brought along slowly, going three innings or fewer in his first half dozen or so starts.
Ponce went 2-8 with Brevard County, which isn’t a cause for concern...the Manatees were awful last year, with far and away the worst record in the Florida State League, with a 40-97 record. That put them 18 games behind the 11th worst record in the league. This was Cleveland Spiderish. But I digress...Ponce’s FIP was 3.21, so it appears he threw the ball well enough.
Cody, like Devin Williams, is still only 22. He is currently on the Carolina Mudcats’ roster, also like Williams. He played at D-2 Cal Poly in college, and was a kinesiology major. He is reported to have a solid delivery that he easily duplicates, throwing all of his pitchers with the same arm slot. If the Brewers can help him develop a release point or grip that allows him to produce natural movement on his fastball, and can develop at least an average change-up, there is no reason to believe that he can’t develop into another solid middle rotation pitcher.
That is three arms at last year’s 10, 9, and 8 spots that still project as solid major league starting rotation players. And we might find more such pitchers as we go forward...
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs